PPM Atlantic Renewable (PPM) has proposed the construction of a wind project to be located in Clayton, Orleans, and Brownville, in Jefferson County, New York. The project would include approximately 54 2.75-megawatt (MW) wind turbines that could generate up to 150 MW of power annually. Turbines would have a maximum height of approximately 150 meters (m) (492') and would be located predominantly in active agricultural fields being used for hay and crop production, as well as for pasturing.
The project area is located within the Eastern Ontario Plain ecozone of New York (Andrle and Carroll 1988). This is a relatively flat region with open grasslands, patches of woodlands, and active agricultural fields, with elevation ranging from approximately 76 m to 152 m (250' to 500'). Forest communities in the area are dominated by American elm (Ulmus americana), red maple (Acer rubrum), and northern hardwoods on soils of lake sediments that overlie limestone bedrock. The proximity of Lake Ontario helps moderate the local climate, which has resulted in the widespread development of agricultural land uses, predominantly dairying.
The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) is a state-listed and federally listed Endangered species. The population in New York State is among the largest in the Northeast, probably the fourth largest in the nation (Hicks 2005). There are 10 known hibernacula in the state, located in Albany (1), Essex (2), Jefferson (1), Onondaga (1), Ulster (4), and Warren (1) Counties (NYNHP 2006).
In 2005, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) conducted a radio telemetry study of Indiana bats in the Jefferson County hibernaculum (Glens Falls Park Cave), which is located in Watertown. That work documented that most of the 28 radio-tagged Indiana bats flew south from Watertown following their exodus in mid-April until mid-May, when the battery life of their radio transmitters ended. However, that work documented that a number of bats flew north, including several individuals that traveled to and resided in and near the Clayton Wind Project area (Figure 1).
Based on these results, PPM undertook field investigations to further investigate Indiana bats within the Clayton Wind Project area. The goal of the investigations was to collect additional data on the habitat use, distribution, and duration of residency of Indiana bats within the project area for use in the assessment of the potential risk of the project to this species. The survey focused field effort on the forest stand within the project area that the most number of bats were found to be using in 2005. The survey consisted of mist-netting near and around 2005 and new 2006 roost trees and radio-tagging Indiana bats to document their daily roost trees, follow their movement to other portions of the project area, and examine patterns in their habitat use at night.